What exactly is a new normal? We’d imagine that most articles looking at 2021 are going to fall into the trap of telling you all about it. The truth is, we’re not quite there yet. We’ve not had enough time to mull it over.
So how can we look at our short-term sales picture? It’s out with the new normal and in with the old because our focus needs to be on how we adapt our old habits and current situation for a thriving 2021.
We’re looking ahead at the key trends that will shape the sales industry in 2021. By leveraging these trends in your own teams, you’ll stay competitive in a market where you can lose pace in a single step. With changes in technology and buyer expectations, the landscape of the sales industry is constantly evolving. So, what are the key sales trends for 2021?
- Sales Tech: getting technology to do the nitty-gritty for you.
- Personalised approaches will be the order of the day.
- Training will become the glue that holds it all together.
- The remote rep and helping them work effectively.
Sales Tech: getting technology to do the nitty-gritty for you
How am I going to hit my target? That’s the one thing on every sales rep’s mind as the months and quarters roll on. And it’s a lot easier when selling time isn’t taken up by the ‘other stuff’. Sales reps spend a whopping 64% of their time on time-consuming, non-sales activities.
It seems the elusive ‘AI’ is featured in almost every new trend for 2021, and we hate to be repetitive, but here it is again. As it is in other business areas, AI is allowing people to automate a lot of these processes, freeing up time for more valuable tasks. This technology can now also give you insights on leads that evaluate their likelihood of converting, and thus how much time should be spent on them.
Aside from just automating tasks, there’s a ton of information a salesperson needs to be able to convince their prospect they know what they’re talking about: product FAQs, competitor insights, to mention a couple. Some tools, including HowNow, allow you to access all of this information directly from where you’re working. Whether that’s in your inbox needing an accurate response to a client or just answering a quick query directly in a call. Making all of this readily available is a huge productivity booster for time-poor teams like Sales.
Personalised approaches will be the order of the day
‘Dear customer…’, how many times a day do you think people get lame emails like that? People are bombarded with sales and marketing material in and out of work, so it takes something personal and specific to cut through the noise. Gone are the old-school days when a generic mass-email could hit the spot.
B2C selling has always been more personal than its B2B counterpart, but now the average consumer craves a personalised approach – in every market. They want to be wooed, to feel special. Think of it like a dating app and securing your sales meeting is locking down that first date. Someone can easily swipe right and find another solution, that’s why you need a profile, product and approach that helps you stand out.
And as the buyer’s expectations evolve, so must the sellers’ approach. To be able to resonate with your prospects, and to get them to give you the time of day, there needs to be clearly tailored outreach. Getting your prospect’s attention is merely the first hurdle. Beyond that, the degree of personalisation needs to build to show that you are creating a bespoke solution to their specific needs. Then, through building a relationship of trust based upon your promise to deliver this tailored solution, you’re transformed from a mere sales rep out to flog your wares, to a trusted advisor showing the best solution and promising real value.
Training will become the glue that holds it all together
We’ve been to the opposite ends of the sales spectrum in our first two trends: one allows sellers to automate processes by using clever technology, while the second calls for a deeply human approach. Of course, it’s important to harness our technology, yet that can’t come at the cost of delivering a truly personal and human experience. The bridge between the two is your reps’ training.
Creating an effective and talented salesforce has never been more important. Especially given the rise of sophisticated technology, partnered with a more knowledgeable and discerning buyer. And training is vital for this, it’s the box of tricks that will help reps disarm the discernable and seem like a beacon of knowledge.
However, a huge rise in remote teams means many can no longer rely on shadowing as a way of training reps. So, we need to find new ways of cloning our biggest hitters and honing sales skills. We’re seeing a lot of companies shift to creating an online ‘Sales Academy’ as a hub for all training and knowledge, a learning dream that can be made a reality in HowNow.
Like the sound of your own learning academy? Check out how it works with our 30-minute, on-demand product tour.
But why exactly are companies making this switch? It’s features like practising, testing and getting coaching for your pitch, or tapping into the knowledge of your subject matter experts and sharing that among your team. Whether it’s a video explaining a killer closing technique, tips on how you pitched a product or a great article you’ve found online. When you bring in external content like this, you’re empowering people to learn as they would out of work. Yes, we can all do courses every now and then, but most of us learn in informal ways.
It’s a move away from the traditional workplace approach of stagnant corporate content libraries, to a dynamic personalised feed that is created purely to drive individual development. By shifting to this approach, reps see only what’s relevant to them. Which means time-poor and eager-to-sell reps aren’t begrudging the L&D team for making them do training. Instead, they’ve got bitesize learning centred around them and their time.
In a world where it’s a race to grow the quickest, revenue teams like sales are on the front line.
But training is really the means to an end, in this case, it’s about how you create a lean mean sales machine out of all your reps. So whilst buyers expect more, tech is doing its part and giving us time-saving hacks, yet it all boils down to the skills of the salesforce hoping to create revenue and drive growth for the company.
The remote rep and helping them work effectively
In August 2020, it was revealed that almost nine in ten people wanted to continue working from home. So, that gives sales reps two challenges: the people they’d normally meet for face-to-face conversation might only be available for digital meetings in 2021, and they themselves might continue chatting with prospects from home.
What makes or breaks whether that’s done well often comes down to the tools they’ve got available. “More than a quarter (29%) said they got more done at home, while 30% said their productivity had fallen”, and you can imagine a lot that comes down to the technology they’re using remotely.
In honesty, this all links back to the first three trends but let’s wrap up with a couple of specific remote sales scenarios. The pitch, it’s the all-important first step, and it’s a different dynamic when it’s done digitally. Our question is, how do you know how well your reps have transitioned from face-to-face to remote pitching? You probably don’t, which means you can’t be sure how effective they are or if their in-person techniques translate to a digital environment. In HowNow, we enable you to create practice pitching scenarios, where you can provide coaching feedback directly through the platform. That’s a golden ticket to ensuring your reps are ready for remote pitching, without them dishing up a load of bronze with actual prospects.
The tap on the shoulder and quick coffee chats for advice have fallen victim to the remote way of working, and it’s a shame because they’re often great bits of information that you grab at just the right time. If you use a central knowledge base and give people a platform to share and search for knowledge whenever they need it, you’re replicating that and ensuring they can respond accurately and at pace.
Whether you’re trending in 2021 comes back to how you plan and act now, learn how to make your sales team a lean, mean, deal-closing machine today.